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Published: October 31st 2016
Lviv's lovely central square.
Being a relatively big city almost right on the border with Poland and thus the EU, Lviv is supposed to be Ukraine's most "European" city and I've have heard nothing but rave reviews about it; therefore I was excited to find out for myself, what all the fuss was about.
At the second time of asking, I actually caught my train there. And it was a really nice train. Like, really
nice. I had company this time too, in Americans Ben and Kerry which was also nice, nicer still after we decided to walk to the hostel despite the freezing cold at 11pm, thanks to taxi drivers trying to rip us off.
My inauspicious start in this city continued when I got to my hostel. I was sharing a dorm with an old, bald Ukrainian man who snored and couldn't speak English and then halfway through the night, I felt an itch, right on my watch strap...but it's too cold for mosquitoes to be about which meant that it had to be...bedbugs! Again! And sure enough as soon as I switched on my torch, I saw the tiniest one crawling along my duvet cover and an even tinier one creeping
Rynok Square By Night
The City Hall is the building on the left.
up the wall. Fecking bastards. I quickly jumped out of my bed, checked my pyjamas for any more of the little fuckers before moving myself and my stuff to an adjoining bed. Luckily I had six others in the dorm to choose from.
I then slept in a bit, given how tired I was from the train ride and lack of sleep thanks to the bedbugs, before reporting it to the hostel staff. I've had hostel staff before who completely deny that they have them when I tell them they do, but some are really good about it and this hostel would definitely belong in the latter category. The girl at the reception was immediately on the phone and my sheets were in the wash in minutes. Within twenty minutes, the room was cleared and fumigated and I was offered either a refund or to be moved to another hostel for free. I kind of didn't really like the vibe at this and was only here because I couldn't get a bed at Ben and Kerry's hostel, so after finding out that there were now free beds there, I saw this as a good opportunity to join them.
Rural Wooden Church
At the open-air Muesum Of Folk.
wow, it was a nice place. The place was a modern, hotel-standard hostel that came with double bed sized bunks, which I have never seen before. The place was also spotless and came complete with bed curtains, personal reading lamps and personal power sockets. All for just 5€ a night. I f*cking love Ukrainian prices. I was now finally ready to have a look around the city.
Indeed it does look a lot like a Central European city - like a mix of Vienna
The main square definitely reminded me of Krakow's with the city hall in the middle of it and with the square being the beating heart of the city. The city hall also has a tower in the middle of it which has great views up the top. There is also the "High Castle" - which is more like a big stack of bricks - atop a nearby hill and the walk up there was pleasant. If only the view was the same - there were far too many trees in the way.
Where Polata was our go-to eatery in Kiev
, Puzata Hata was our go-to eatery here. It is basically a
Polish War Graves
Exclusive section for Polish war dead at Lychakivske Cemetery.
classy-looking canteen serving up local Ukrainian fare but super-cheap. Every time I went I would be completely stuffed for less around 3€. And the quality of the food is excellent too. Salads, grilled meats, chicken kievs, dumplings, meat-filled pancakes and cheesecakes are all on the menu, plus more.
With Kerry continuing her journey to Krakow, Ben joined me for a visit to Lychakivske Cemetery. The war memorials were probably the most memorable features of this necropolis. Ben even managed to find a grave with his is surname on the gravestone. Ben is of Polish descent although his family has been in the US now for a few generations and there a section of the cemetery exclusively for Polish war heroes. Regardless how unsurprising this was considering how close to the Polish border we were, it was still cool to see the dead of another nation so honourably remembered. It was a bit like the New Zealand graves and memorials in Gallipoli
. The place is also a general graveyard for ordinary civilians although I would hazard to guess that you'd probably need some money to be buried here. There were some big mausoleums but not as many as I saw
At the Lychakivske Cemetery.
in Buenos Aires
. I also liked how there graves here are placed among the trees, making it look as if the gravestones are growing out of the ground.
With Ben going back into town to check into his Airbnb apartment, I decided to carry on and walk to an open-air museum that is supposed to resemble a rural, Ukrainian village. Getting there however, was an absolute debacle.
Stupidly didn't think that the "Museum Of Folk" on Google Maps might have been what I was looking for and instead looked to find it in a different part of the huge park that it was located in. Concluding that the Museum of Folk probably was
what I was looking for I tried to get there by following a path along a fence. I then finally get to the path - only to see that the fence was between me and the path. Continuing along the fence, I then get to a steep ravine - there was no way I was getting down it so I followed the path away from the museum, which kept going away...and away...and away. One and a half hours later, I had finally extricated myself
Rural Ukrainian House
At the open-air Museum Of Folk.
from the park and ended up in the outskirts of Lviv in what resembled a rural village - a real one, instead of the 'fake' one I was looking for. I followed Google Maps back around the entire boundary of the park to the museum - which at 6pm, was thankfully still open.
A bit like Poble Español in Barcelona, there are rural houses, barns and most impressively, huge wooden churches in this open air museum, which all showcase the different rural, architectural styles from different parts of the country. It was very quaint and having been in cities the whole time, I thought it was nice to see a bit of the 'countryside'. There was a small cafe serving up rural Ukrainian treats of which the wet wheat balls filled with dried fruits and nuts were delicious.
Four more of the Kiev crew arrived in Lviv that evening; Aussie Oscar, Dutchman Laurens and Americans Ellie and Jimmy. We had basically shifted the whole hostel crew from Kiev Central Station Hostel to Ben's Airbnb apartment - which was a pretty nice one - here in Lviv! Everyone was pretty tired however so we called it a night pretty early -
Kornakyt House & Others
Kornakyt House is the green one in the foreground which houses part of the Lviv History Museum in Rynok Square.
I could do with the rest after all the walking I did!
Now if you're looking for somewhere to launch a start-up or a place to stop travelling for a while, Lviv would be amazing. It's close to Central Europe and has everything you need in terms of good internet, a decent population and all the shops and amenities that you would expect to find in any city; but most importantly, it's cheap! This was what I needed when I stopped in Albania
. What a shame that by the time I got here, that I now had a deadline and a schedule to stick to - I wish I could've stayed longer...
...so...I did! By one more night because I felt I was due a big night out and that I felt I would've had unfinished business if I left lively, lovely Lviv without testing its nightlife.
But I also had to sort out my travel plans.
In the last three months travelling through the Balkans and Eastern Europe, I had managed to save a bit of money but nevertheless my Q3 financial results were disappointing - with big expenses and expensive countries on the horizon in the next month
One of the more eye-catching facades in Rynok Square.
or so, I was hoping I had gone a bit more under budget than the £100 I did go under buy. With saving as much money as possible suddenly becoming a priority and with a hard deadline of October 23rd, I had to very carefully plan my transport and accommodation for the next three weeks. It wasn't fun at all as I looked at all the different options and solutions. I also had to try and be in Salzburg by October 7th to catch up with Simon from Albania
in his hometown - which would now require some rushed connections.
I always knew it'd be like this once I had booked my flight back to London
- I had to sort out accommodation there
too - and once again with a limited budget, I felt like I did when trying to sort all of this kind of shit out back in June
. Was all this hassle worth it? It wasn't super fun. But I was now on the home straight and as always, it looks like it will be a frantic finish to Basel.
But anyway - the liveliness of Lviv's nightlife. It wasn't too lively unfortunately. Warming up with my Kiev crew at Ben's apartment
View From The Tower
View from the city hall bell tower. The church in the foreground is the Latin Cathedral.
with some drinking games, it was the five lads - lads lads lads lads lads - that went out on the town afterwards.
The first bar we went to however was perhaps one of the more interesting that I have ever been to. It was basically a BDSM bar and on request, you could get a spanking. There was one old dude taking his punishment as we entered but from then on, it was only girls who were getting voluntarily whipped. And from the sounds of it, they loved it too.
"Da! Da! Da! Da!"
Each to their own, I guess. Moscow's
"face control" policies at nightclubs are well-known - but apparently it extends to Ukraine. Clubs would not let us in when they saw we were a group of male foreigners and another bar stopped serving just as we arrived, though I wonder if they just didn't to serve us. If I do decide to come hang out for a while here in Lviv then I'd have to overlook this and I'm not sure if I can. We took it as a sign that tonight wasn't going to be our night and cut our losses accordingly. It has been
This is a rural Ukrainian lady in traditional dress.
fun hanging out with my Kiev crew - perhaps one day we will hang out again.
It might've been a blessing in disguise to have gone home (relatively) early - I had an early bus to catch the next day to my next destination; Warsaw.
До скорої зустрічі (do skoroi zustrіchі)!
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